Fiji High Court Rejects Bid by Post Coup Government to Stay in Power

Published December 20th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

The High Court on Wednesday threw out a bid by Fiji's post coup administration for a stay of execution of its judgment ordering reinstatement of the government ousted after the May 19 coup. 

Justice Anthony Gates who last month declared the interim administration had "no constitutional foundation of legality" said in his judgment Wednesday that the court "has no jurisdiction to stay the constitution." 

But in another unexpected development on Wednesday, Fiji's ousted president, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, simultaneously announced his retirement from public life and his formal resignation as President. 

Gates' judgment in November said Mara, who was deposed by the military on May 29, remained Fiji's lawful head of state. 

It also declared that Mara should summon parliament and appoint a prime minister to form a government as soon as was possible. 

But interim Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, who was installed by the military, said the court decision was "simply a further stage in the continuing legal process" and must be allowed its full completion. 

His administration immediately announced it would make a further application for a stay to the Fiji Court of Appeal and initiated a case which is expected to be heard by the Appeals Court between February 19-23. 

Deposed Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry welcomed Gates' latest ruling and called on the Secretary of Finance to "forthwith cease all payments and privileges to members of the interim regime from the public purse". 

Gates' earlier judgment declared that the coup in which failed businessman George Speight overthrew the elected government and took Chaudhry and his government hostage, was unsuccessful. 

The interim government applied for a stay on the grounds that the judge had erred in his rulings. 

The military, which still holds power in Fiji, was expected to comment on the ruling on Thursday while Police Commissioner Isikia Savua gave an assurance that the police would follow the due process of the law. 

Speight and nine of the alleged co-conspirators in the coup are still detained in the island prison at Nukula awaiting trial on treason charges. 

Their fortnightly court appearance Wednesday was again held on the island for security reasons. The next hearing is on January 3 -- SUVA, Fiji (AFP) 

 

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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